11 Old War Photos You Won't Believe Aren't Fake (Part 2)

#5. Horror Nanny

Wolf Strache/Galerie Bassenge
If that stroller holds a bomb, it's somehow less horrifying.

One of two things is going on here: A) it is the winter of mankind's doom, and Mary Poppins has managed to scavenge together enough bottle caps and copper wire inside that old pram to make a decent trade with Mohawk, the leader of the local cannibal tribe, or B) that child is in serious trouble.

Well, the thing about war is that even though things may be exploding all around you, shit still needs to get done. People's lives don't stop just because there's a war going on -- they still need to buy cereal and go to the laundromat. No picture captures those realities of war better than this photograph of a woman in a gas mask taking her baby out for a walk in Berlin after a 1943 Allied bombing raid. That baby's not going to walk itself, after all.

The British also understood the need to carry on with everyday life despite the constant threat of deadly gas attacks, and they demonstrated this in the most noble way possible -- leggy girl shows:

Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Giving girls an excuse to go days without shaving their mustaches.

Of course, gas masks weren't exclusive to World War II. They also had them during World War I, as evidenced by this photograph of Austrian sailors demonstrating the oft-held belief that everything about that war had to be bizarre and/or terrifying:

Mansell/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
"'Sup?"

Those masks look like they were designed by a team of scientists forced to consume nothing but expired heroin and the movie Scream for 17 straight hours. Amazingly, Austria still managed to lose that war, despite the fact that they had an entire navy dressed up like Batman villains. Historically, gas masks were not necessarily seen as instruments of intimidation, even though this 1937 photo by Viktor Bulla, showing off a patriotic group of young fighters from Leningrad ready to defend their homeland, seems to indicate the primary theater of battle was their enemies' nightmares:

Viktor Bulla
Russia's casualty statistics often fail to count the restless undead.

#4. "Turn the Valve on the Left. No, the Other One!"

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
They would have labeled the wheels, but they ran out of letters.

OK, that spider web of M.C. Escher confusion must be fake; that's the set of some ridiculous Buster Keaton slapstick set piece, right?

The terrifying truth of that picture is that it's of the control room of a submarine. Now, we know submarines are complex pieces of machinery, so much so that a German U-boat was once sunk when someone pushed the wrong button on the toilet and managed to flush the entire thing to the bottom of the ocean. The room you see in the picture is from a German SM U-110 submarine that was sunk by depth charges in 1918 along with its 39-person crew.

The borderline absurdity of its control valves, meant to regulate the flow of air in the vessel while the sub's operators prayed every second that they didn't turn the wrong valve and kill everyone on board, goes along well with the rest of the submarine, which looks like somebody put the blueprints into a blender before sending them off to the builders:

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
Terry Gilliam directed Germany's sub program.

#3. Elephant Tanks

via John Glines
They trimmed the tusks, of course. Shit's dangerous.

We know that battle elephants were used for thousands of years, but that had to have gone out of style since the advent of rifles and gunpowder, right? Surely these gentlemen are merely riding that elephant on their way to the battlefield, and have no intention of trying to pilot that lumbering earthquake machine during a firefight.

Well, the Thai people love them some elephants. So while the rest of the world stopped using nature's bio-tanks as instruments of war once the implementation of rifles reduced them to giant bullet sumps, the Thai army kept right on using them until the 1893 Franco-Siamese War.

The elephants were mostly used for transporting artillery (because that stuff is simply too heavy for people to carry), but the Thai also outfitted them with swivel muskets called jingals, so that they worked like four-legged attack vehicles that the Galactic Empire would be proud of. The elephant's crew would guide the animal into position and then fire the jingal, sending both bullets and psychological trauma toward the enemy (because the guns could only be fired over the animal's rear, making it look like the elephants were shooting bullets out of their assholes).

Tevaprapas Makklay
Real missed opportunity, not sticking cannonballs in the trunk.

#2. Half of a Ship Floats on the Ocean

Harry Pitchford
The official name for such a vessel is an "ip."

Here's one you'll have to stare at for a moment, until you realize that's not the design of the boat -- the entire bow is in fact missing, and the rest of it is floating along like it ain't no thing.

In the midst of Allied fleet operations during World War II, the Greek destroyer Adrias struck a mine that blew its front section completely off. Another destroyer came alongside and offered to take in the crew, but the captain of the Adrias insisted that the damage was minimal and stayed with his ship, as if his sheer ignorance about how ships work would manage to keep it afloat.

Still, it proved to be a wise decision, because the would-be rescue ship then hit a mine and began sinking. The survivors climbed aboard what remained of the Adrias, and the captain was able to beach the ship in enemy territory to make emergency repairs with wire, tape, and bubble gum, before limping to an Allied port for a full overhaul.

#1. Total War Looks Totally Amazing

National Archives 
Let's never cut the military budget ever.

As unglamorous as it sounds, war generally boils down to opposing heads of state trying to batter each other into submission with giant bags of money. This money-swinging tends to manifest in the form of stupefying amounts of weapons and vehicles, sort of like that one rich friend of yours that had every single G.I. Joe vehicle and wouldn't let you play with any of them. Case in point, the picture above featuring a shitload of Japanese dwarf submarines.

The photo shows roughly 84 "Koryu" boats, the same type used during the attack on Pearl Harbor, which might help explain what the American forces did once they took over the Kure Naval Base, where the photo was taken:

National Archives 
"Fuck each and every one of those boats. That's an order."

But obviously, Japan wasn't the only country that went on to inspire the invention of the Photoshop clone tool. Here's an impossible number of Allied jeeps from the invasion of Japan, abandoned in Okinawa in 1949:

Life Magazine
Pearl Harbor explains most of this decision as well.

Then there were the so-called Liberty ships. Hitler's U-boats sank hundreds of cargo ships supplying the Allied war effort in Europe. To replace them, the British developed designs for a ship that could be built for about $2 million in 40 days, which was relatively cheap and absurdly fast. Appropriately, the U.S. government then built enough of them to fit two of every animal on Earth:

Life Magazine
Because God had told them to destroy every man, woman, and child.

Finally, in case you thought the sky was safe from this game of military flexing, we want to bring to your attention the number of aircraft the Allies were pumping out during World War II, which resembles a hangar holding all of your extra lives in a game of 1942:

US Air Force
Our initial plan for defeating Japan was to blot out the sun.


Eric Yosomono spends hours scouring the darkest depths of the Internet in search of images. You can check out other photo essays of his on Gaijinass.com or be good boys and girls and like their Facebook page.

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